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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Why Human Translators Aren't Going out of Style

Sure, free web-based translation tools are great things. They can give the general gist of something written in a language you don't have if you find yourself in need of a quick and dirty translation. But they should never, ever be used for translating something for publication.

Case in point: here's something that must have been translated by machine without human intervention. This blurb comes from a bilingual English-Spanish map I picked up at my hotel today. Here's what's printed on the map in English (reproduced exactly as it appears) right below a poetic Spanish-language description of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia:
Even though it is a grand expiatory temple, The Sacred Family are two peaks on the line of the horizon, some reproductions made out of chocolate for Easter, are postcards as a memento, the scenery of concerts, the inspirations of musicians such as Alan Parson, of sculptors like Subirachs, of movies like Glory Day and of an infinite or newspaper articles and news items on TV and more than 70 books. 4.000 people a day visit the Sacred Family. It is a phenomenon of multitudes and a lively and mutant monument.
Why go with the much more conservative "living and changing monument" when you can transliterate the cathedral into something lively and mutant. It's much more dramatic that way.

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